Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Different Approach to Book Press Releases

After you complete your book and are ready to publish, there are a million things to take care of before the book goes live.  One of those things is to write a Press Release.  A press release is a news piece that is sent to newspapers and online news sources.  It details who you are, what your book is about, and why someone will want to buy your book.  Once you have it written, you have to submit it to different media outlets.  The problem comes when no one picks up your release.  You might wonder, “why didn’t they post my story?”  Probably because there are millions of other authors who are doing exactly the same time, but what can you do?

Launching a book for a self-published author is an uphill battle.  No one knows you; no one wants to give your book a chance, because are not backed by a big name publisher, so sometimes a self-published author has to start small.  Yes, you have a submitted your book to and Smashwords, but they are large sites and you are just one person.  You have to build your own audience and then drive them to large book sites or you will never succeed, one way to do that it to start small and focus on your hometown.

Extra Extra Read All About It - Instead of shooting for the stars and sending your press release to every major news outlet, start by submitting to your local papers.  Every town and community has a few papers that will run local news articles.  Gain the support of your neighbors and community, while working your major social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter.  The key to submitting a press release to local media and community sites is to make the local community care about you, as a person, not a writer, or an author of the “next great American novel.”

Local Man Does Something Amazing - Create your press release by talking about yourself from a community aspect.  What makes you stand out as a person and as a writer?  Talk about your struggles in writing your book.  Make the press release interesting to local readers.  This is an opportunity to humanize yourself and be spotlighted as more than just a writer behind a keyboard.  Mention the book and give a brief description of it, but think of the rest of the article as a human interest story.  If you already have ties to the community, then talk about that as well.  People like reading about individuals who have struggled to achieve something.  Find an aspect of your life than can be highlighted to make people relate to you and care about you.  They are more likely to support you by telling others about you.  They may not read your book, but they will talk about you and help spread your name.  

Dear Editor, Please Post My Story - When submitting your press release to local papers, remember to be polite to them.  Most local sites don’t have a press release submission procedure, so you will have to send a general email to them asking them to run your article.  They are people in your community, show them respect.  They might not be lead reports at a huge metro paper, but they are the people you want to be nice to.  They have to review your submission and decide if they will publish it, but they are also members of the community.  If they are interested in your article, they will tell others.  If you are disrespectful and don’t thank them for their time, they will remember it the next time you ask them to post a news article and may pass on your submission.  

In Other News - Once the local papers have started to accept and publish your article, you will need to rewrite your press release for the other media outlets.  This release will focus on you as a writer and why someone should read your book, but it will have to appeal to a larger audience.  This is the “go big, or go home” article.  Take the basic elements of your original article and enhance them to stand out against the millions of other press releases.  Keep in mind that you must be truthful in your article and don’t over promise something you can’t deliver.  Always make the article creative, but realistic, and gear it toward your target audience.  If you write children’s books, appeal to the parents who will buy it for their children.  If you write romance novels, appeal to the women and men who love a good romantic story line.  Write your article for your reader, not the other portion of the population who has no interest in reading, or who only care about actual live news.  Jazz up your release with creative words and interesting facts about you and your book, but keep it grounded in reality.

Before you start your press release, Google “how to write a press release” for the basic layout and structure.  There are plenty of sites that can help.  The release date of the book will need to be posted at the top, or label it for Immediate Release.  Then create a cover letter for the review sites that only offer an email address for submission and don't forget to attached your book cover and/or author photo.  Most of all, have patience in submitting the press release.  Not every news outlet will post the article for different reasons, so it may have to be submitted again after some revisions, or during a slower news cycle.

For an example of my “local” press release, click here.

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